Apple iPad to positively impact mobile marketing, but strain networks

Following the announcement of the Apple iPad, mobile industry pundits have stated that while this is a positive step for mobile technology and those connected with it, the new device will add more strain to mobile networks, an area that mobile operators need to contend with now.

Paul Berney, European MD of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has commented on how the device will impact on mobile marketing: “The Apple Tablet is going to have a significant and positive impact on the practice mobile marketing and the value that can be generated with it. For marketers, the impact aligns along the factors of potential reach and rich media Internet-enabled services delivery. For instance, there are over 10 billion mobile-enabled device in the market today, including phones.

“As these devices, like the Apple Tablet, are adopted by consumers marketers will have extended reach for their programs, programs that can be full of engaging, rich, interactive media. For consumers, the value aligns along the lines of increased capability and access. They will have more and more opportunity to easily access Internet services and related mobile applications and solutions enabled by these new devices to accomplish what they want, when they want it and how they want it.”

Berney continued: “These services will provide marketers and consumers alike with the ability to have a global presence while engaging in locally relevant services and community. Like the iPhone and other smartphones currently in the market, this is a high end device which only a relatively small proportion of consumers will be able to access in the short to medium term. For devices to really impact on wider consumer uptake of mobile marketing, we need to see better consumer experiences being replicated across a broader range of handsets and tablets at all price points. Again like the iPhone before it, the impact of the device may go beyond just handset sales; it may stimulate a drive for richer and more engaging consumer experiences.”

However, wireless networking specialist ADC has warned of the potential strain this will put on the mobile internet, given that many networks are already struggling to cope with current levels of 3G traffic.

“Complaints of coverage blackspots and insufficient service are already common, and with more and more 3G-enabled consumer electronics devices coming on to the market, the mobile industry needs to make steps to ensure their networks can keep pace,” said John Spindler, VP product management at ADC.

“Consumer patience has worn thin as they have come to expect perfect coverage and quick, reliable internet access wherever they are,” Spindler continued. “The iPhone led to a tenfold increase in user demand for bandwidth on mobile networks, and there’s no reason why Apple’s new iPad won’t emulate this success.”

ADC states that to deal with these problems, it is essential to continue to move away from the macro tower method of delivering signal, instead focusing on reducing cell sizes significantly and providing signal exactly where it is needed.

“To overcome these challenges and meet rising levels of mobile broadband traffic, operators need to act now. First, they will need to reduce the size of coverage cells, so that more bandwidth in each given cell is available to a group of users. Secondly, since most mobile browsing happens indoors, they will need to focus on bringing coverage inside since broadband wireless data signals can’t penetrate buildings very effectively. And finally, operators will need to significantly increase the backhaul capacity of their networks,” continued Spindler.